The New Mexico State men’s basketball team is moving in order to keep preparing for the upcoming season.
The university in Las Cruces, N.M. announced Tuesday that its NCAA Division I men’s basketball team is “heading to Phoenix, Ariz., for a period of time where it will continue to ready itself for the 2020-21 college basketball season and work to construct a robust non-conference schedule.”
"While far from our first option, I am pleased that we found such a tremendous opportunity to prepare for the upcoming season," New Mexico State director of athletics Mario Moccia said when announcing the move. "Approximately a five-hour drive from Las Cruces, the Arizona Grand will provide the ability for our team and coaches to isolate as much as possible while having virtually unlimited access to a court."
With the college basketball season scheduled to start Nov. 25, the Aggies will isolate at the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa, which has a basketball court and weight room. Players, coaches and staff members will continue to be tested for COVID-19 three times per week, which has been the practice since the beginning of November.
"We continue to be proud of our staff and players for the individual sacrifices they are making as our program keeps pushing forward to compete during these trying times," head coach Chris Jans was quoted in the announcement. "We have exercised every precaution to do our part for the health and safety of our program and community while finding a way to ensure our student-athletes have a great experience."
New Mexico universities have gotten creative to continue competing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. New Mexico State athletes have been in a bubble atmosphere on campus, while the University of New Mexico football team relocated to Las Vegas earlier this fall due to spiking coronavirus cases in Bernalillo County.
Teams in New Mexico currently can’t practice or compete unless the county they are located in has a 14-day average daily case count of less than 8 in 100,000 and a test positivity rate below 5 percent. Doña Ana County currently has numbers well above those. USA Today cited data from the New Mexico Department of Health, which showed that Doña Ana County had an average daily case count of 84.2 per 100,000 and a test positivity rate of 18.1 percent from Oct. 27 until Nov. 9.
According to USA Today, New Mexico State expects the move to be at least five weeks, and the cost to be about $99,000 for rooms, tests and meals during the five-week period.
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